Electronic Supplementary Information from Fe(OTf)3-catalysed Friedel–Crafts reaction of benzenoid arenes with α, β-unsaturated carbonyl compounds: easy access to 1,1-diarylalkanes

A simple and efficient method for the synthesis of 1,1-diaryl alkanes via the Friedel–Crafts-type alkylation reaction of electron-rich arenes with cinnamic acid ester derivatives or chalcones is reported. Iron triflate has been found to be the best catalyst for the Friedel–Crafts-type alkylation reaction with α,β-unsaturated carbonyl compounds. This reaction afforded β,β-diaryl carbonyl compounds in good yields (65–93%) and with excellent regioselectivities. Remarkably, this method is also compatible with a variety of indoles to afford 3-indolyl-aryl carbonyl compounds in excellent yields. Great efforts have been made to deduce a plausible reaction mechanism based on isotopic labelling experiments.